July 8, 2010

Zandar Versus The Stupid: It's Over, They Lost, Go Home

Zandar Versus The Stupid: It's Over, They Lost, Go Home

Agree, disagree ...
One of my few non-physics posts, a link to another blogger about a social policy issue.


Blogger Allen said...

I agree with DeLong/Krugman/Zandar-the-Stupid.

But, assuming physicalism, and given the initial conditions of the universe plus the causal laws of physics (which may have a probabilistic aspect) as applied over ~13.7 billion years, this is the way it had to be.


12/7/10 23:25  
Blogger Neil B said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13/7/10 07:55  
Blogger Neil B said...

Allen (should I presume, the same Allen as recently?) - heh, what is "physicalism" anyway? You know, as a monger of Platonism and conversant with David Lewis/Modal Realism, that isn't clearly defined anyway. I'm not sure, I think "real existence" is a mystical extra dash so we aren't just a math model/simulation.

As for things turning out this way: in a deterministic universe, given earlier conditions then indeed it is how it had to turn out. But is that the kind of universe we live in? I don't think so. Note quantum indeterminacy - as Feyman put it, the philosophically absurd ideas that identical objects (like muons) don't always act the same way! Now you know from my earlier posts that the MWI tokers say it all happens and so determinism is regained - but they can't rationally get a handle on specific chances of outcomes given e.g. a two-way quantum split.

BTW, speaking of muons - since that's a "structureless" particle, even in MWI it's hard to see what the differing WFs of decay/stable are pegged to. They don't have a clear grounding in some description the way that constituent states usually are, right?

tx for linking your blog. How could I not get a kick out of the Platonic Mindscape? BTW for interesting arguments about God see Julian Sanchez on agnosticism. BTW I don't agree, left a rebuttal, and think he's a typical dismissive neoatheist ass (like Crude would agree.)

13/7/10 08:02  
Blogger Allen said...

A thought I've had on indeterminism:

Quantum mechanical laws would still enforce the necessity of one probability distribution instead of some other, wouldn’t they?

The probabilistic aspect takes place within the fixed and unchanging context of quantum mechanics.

Like the randomness of the shuffle takes places within the deterministic rules of poker.

Do the rules of poker change from one day to the next? The suits? The number of cards in the deck? Are those aspects random?

Does quantum mechanics have similarly fixed aspects? Do new fundamental forces pop in and out of existence? Are there days when electromagnetism doesn’t work?

And if not, why not? What enforces the consistent application of the QCD and QED and gravity? And what enforces the consistent application of that enforcement? And what enforces the enforcement of the consistent application of the enforcement? And so on.

Is there a sufficient reason for these things? Or is this just the way it works, for no reason?

Another thought is that a deterministic Turing machine plus a tape of random bits can simulate a probabilistic Turing machine. Maybe the laws of physics are deterministic, but the initial conditions include the equivalent of a random tape?

But, obviously, as an idealist, I take an instrumentalist view of scientific theories. It's not that muon's exist. Instead, the existence of muons is merely consistent with what I observe.

But it's a mistake, I think, to hypostatize the mathematical descriptions that we come up with to fit our observations.

13/7/10 22:49  

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